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51. My Twelfth Piece of Translation Exercise (passage from "Jane Eyre")

The original passage (Charlotte Bronte's own Preface to her Second Edition of "Jane Eyre" (《簡愛》)):


A preface to the first edition of 'Jane Eyre' being unnecessary, I gave none: this second edition demands a few words both of acknowledgment and miscellaneous remark.

My thanks are due in three quarters.

To the Public, for the indulgent ear it has inclined to a plain tale with few pretensions.

To the Press, for the fair field its honest suffrage has opened to an obscure aspirant.

To my Publishers, for the aid their tact, their energy, their practical sense, and frank liberality have afforded an unknown and unrecommended Author.

The Press and the Public are but vague personifications for me, and I must thank them in vague terms; but my Publishers are definite: so are certain generous critics who have encouraged me as only large-hearted and high-minded men know how to encourage a struggling stranger; to them, that is, to my Publishers and the select Reviewers, I say cordially, Gentlemen, I thank you from my heart.

Having thus acknowledged what I owe those who have aided and approved me, I turn to another class; a small one, so far as I know, but not, therefore, to be overlooked. I mean the timorous or carping few who doubt the tendency of such books as 'Jane Eyre': in whose eyes whatever is unusual is wrong; whose ears detect in each protest against bigotry - that parent of crime - an insult to piety, that regent of God on earth. I would suggest to such doubters certain obvious distinctions; I would remind them of certain simple truths.

Conventionality is not morality. Self-righteousness is not religion. To attack the first is not to assail the last. To pluck the mask from the face of the Pharisee, is not to lift an impious hand to the Crown of Thorns.

These things and deeds are diametrically opposed: they are as distinct as is vice from virtue. Men too often confound them: they should not be confounded: appearance should not be mistaken for truth; narrow human doctrines, that only tend to elate and magnify a few, should not be substituted for the world-redeeming creed of Christ. There is - I repeat it - a difference; and it is a good, and not a bad action to mark broadly and clearly the line of separation between them.

The world may not like to see these ideas dissevered, for it has been accustomed to blend them; finding it convenient to make external show pass for sterling worth - to let white-washed walls vouch for clean shrines. It may hate him who dares to scrutinise and expose, to rase the gilding and show base metal under it, to penetrate the sepulchre and reveal charnel relics; but hate as it will, it is indebted to him.

Ahab did not like Micaiah, because he never prophesied good concerning him, but evil; probably he liked the sycophant son of Chenaannah better; yet might Ahab have escaped a bloody death, had he but stopped his ears to flattery, and opened them to faithful counsel.

There is a man in our own days whose words are not framed to tickle delicate ears; who, to my thinking, comes before the great ones of society much as the son of Imlah came before the throned kings of Judah and Israel, and who speaks truth as deep, with a power as prophet-like and as vital, a mien as dauntless and as daring. Is the satirist of 'Vanity Fair' admired in high places? I cannot tell; but I think if some of those amongst whom he hurls the Greek fire of his sarcasm, and over whom he flashes the levin-brand of his denunciation, were to take his warnings in time, they or their seed might yet escape a fatal Ramoth-Gilead.

Why have I alluded to this man? I have alluded to him, Reader, because I think I see in him an intellect profounder and more unique than his contemporaries have yet recognised; because I regard him as the first social regenerator of the day, as the very master of that working corps who would restore to rectitude the warped system of things; because I think no commentator on his writings has yet found the comparison that suits him, the terms which rightly characterise his talent. They say he is like Fielding: they talk of his wit, humour, comic powers. He resembles Fielding as an eagle does a vulture: Fielding could stoop on carrion, but Thackeray never does. His wit is bright, his humour attractive, but both bear the same relation to his serious genius that the mere lambent sheet-lightning playing under the edge of the summer-cloud does to the electric death-spark hid in its womb. Finally, I have alluded to Mr Thackeray, because to him - if he will accept the tribute of a total stranger - I have dedicated this second edition of 'JANE EYRE.'


December 21st, 1847】

My Chinese translation:


《簡愛》(Jane Eyre)初版沒有需要,因此我不寫序;這次第二版要寫些答謝說話和其他種種的聲明。






對一直幫忙和認同我的人道謝過後,我轉向另一群人,以我現在所知是一小群人,但不能因為人數少而可以忽略。我說的是那群怕事或挑剔的少數人,他們對像《簡愛》(Jane Eyre)這類書的傾向抱持懷疑的態度。他們眼見的凡是不一般的事情總認為是錯的;他們聽見的每一聲對偏見──罪惡之母──的抗議都認為是對塵世間向上帝虔敬之心的侮辱。我會向這些懷疑者建議一些明顯的區別,我會點醒他們一些簡單的真理。

傳統慣例不是道德規範,自以為是的正義不是宗教。攻繫前者不代表是攻繫後者,揭起「法利賽人」(Pharisee)的面罩不代表是拿開放在「荊棘王冠」(Crown of Thorns)上褻瀆之手。




今天有一個人,他的說話沒有被規限了只向纖弱易損的耳朵訴說。我認為他是當今社會偉大人物中的一員,就像「音拉」(Imlah)的兒子是「猶大」(Judah)及「以色列」(Israel)王座上君主的一員一樣。他說的真理是如此穩固,他的力量是如此像預言家和如此至關重要,他的風度是如此無畏無懼和膽識過人。著作《名利場》(Vanity Fair)的諷刺作家是否得到大眾至高無上的擁戴?這個我不敢說,但我認為:如果那群曾被他投擲以嘲諷的「希臘之火」的、以及曾被他照射以無比鋒利的「當頭棒喝」的人當中一些人,如果他們當初能及時接受他的警告的話,他們或他們的後代原是可以逃過致命的「拉末-基列」(Ramoth-Gilead)。

為甚麼我要暗示這一個人?讀者們,我暗示他是因為我認為自己看到他的睿智比同時代人已經認知的更加深邃和更加獨特;是因為我把他看成是重建現今社會的第一人,是工作軍團中將扭曲制度下的事物回歸正直的大師級人物;是因為沒有任何評論他著作的書評家能找到與他相襯的比較、找到可以確切勾勒出他才智的術語。大眾說他像「菲爾丁」(Fielding):無論是機智、幽默、喜劇力量都像。他與「菲爾丁」(Fielding)的相似如同鷹與禿鷲的相似:「菲爾丁」(Fielding)會俯身向腐肉但「薩克雷」(Thackeray)永遠不會。(譯註:Thackeray是"Vanity Fair"的作者,"Jane Eyre"第二版就是獻給他的。)他的機智是耀眼的,他的幽默是引人入勝的,然而兩者都與他嚴肅穩重的天才息息相關:就像在夏日雲層邊緣下方嬉戲的、普通不過的片狀閃電與隱藏在雲層肚腹內可置人死地的電荷的關係一樣。最後:我一直暗示的人是「薩克雷」(Thackeray)先生,因為──如果他願意接受一個完全陌生人的奉獻──我把這本《簡愛》(Jane Eyre)第二版獻給他。

CURRER BELL(譯註:Charlotte Bronte發表"Jane Eyre"時使用的筆名。)


(Written on January 4, 2014)